Archive for November, 2008

OgreCave Christmas Gift Guide 2008, part 1

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

The turkey and stuffing may not even be on the table yet, but the Cave dwellers have been hard at work to make sure you’re ready for the holiday shopping season. To that end, we present part one of our eighth annual recommendations list, the OgreCave Christmas Gift Guide 2008. This first list of worthwhile gaming goodies, Twelve Stocking Stuffer Games, goes easy on your wallet, letting you stick a toe into the holiday gift buying before coming back to see the rest of our lists in the days ahead. We’ll have the rest of our suggestions up in the next few days, but in the meantime, use this list to remember what you’d like to give your friends, get from friends, or both. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Gen Con “sale” actually hostile takeover attempt

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Those of you who’ve been following the comments of the Gen Con sale story already know, but it’s worth repeating in the main news feed: according to Adrian Swartout, President of Gen Con LLC, the “Gen Con Acquisition Group” that filed a letter of intent to buy Gen Con – well, that’s most likely a hostile takeover attempt in progress. In a press statement earlier today, Swartout had the following to say about the Gen Con Acquisition Group letter:

“We believe this offer was clearly timed to disrupt our ability to get a plan confirmed and is an attempt at a hostile takeover with the intention of ousting Peter Adkison as the owner.

The offer was suspiciously cryptic, with no letter of introduction, good will, or summary of intentions for forward management and opportunities for current staff. Given the date of submission, the lack of prior outreach from this group, and the overt omission of intentions regarding management of business operations, it was difficult to take this offer seriously. It’s from an anonymous group that clearly does not understand the value Peter brings to Gen Con. Any acquisition offer that relies on future profits of the business to service the outstanding debt that does not have a provision for Peter’s continued involvement is not a sound offer.

[...] I have diligently reviewed the offer in conjunction with our creditor committee and we have determined it is a high risk proposition with far too many negative implications and is not in the best interest of our creditors. It is our intent to disregard this offer and continue toward confirmation of a plan substantially similar to the offer filed with the Court.”

It seems unlikely that this is the last we’ve heard of the Gen Con fiscal recovery situation. We’ll keep you posted if we hear anything else.

Paizo looking for another RPG Superstar

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Now in its second year, Paizo Publishing is firing up its RPG Superstar contest again. Last time, the multi-round contest asked budding game authors to submit progressively longer and more elaborate RPG projects, eventually whittling 32 selected entrants down to a final four and their competing adventure proposals. Starting on December 5th (which is the Day of the Ninja – more on that soon), aspiring RPG designers can send in their RPG Superstar submission and vie for the title. In the first round, that entry should be a wondrous item, described in 200 words or less, designed for use with the Pathfinder RPG. Judges Wolfgang Baur of Kobold Quarterly, Necromancer Games co-owner Clark Peterson, and Paizo’s Sean K Reynolds will oversee the proceedings, along with special guest judge appearances by Ed Greenwood and Monte Cook. The full press release below has the details.
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Gen Con sale pending to “Acquisition Group”

Monday, November 24th, 2008

LivingDice.com tells us that activity continues on the Gen Con front: a letter of intent for purchase of the assets of Gen Con LLC, currently undergoing Chapter 11 restructuring, was filed last Thursday with the bankruptcy court. The letter names a “Gen Con Acquisition Group” as the buyer, though the group’s members are not identified. The buyer will agree to pay all of Gen Con’s outstanding debts, though this will be staggered over time by starting with $500,000 at date of closing, $400,000 a month later, and another $400,000 every six months until paid up. These debts, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation claim, will have 6% interest added to them. This plan is most likely the reason for Lucasfilm dropping its lawsuit against Gen Con earlier this month. The letter specifies a close date of December 31, 2008.

Frag going gold in February. No disc involved

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

File under the Revisit and Upgrade category: Steve Jackson Games is updating one of their older titles, Frag. The updated version, Frag: Gold Edition, due out in February ’09, will boast a two-sided solid gameboard, plastic figures instead of cardstock, dry-erasable character cards, plenty of dice, and lots of fragging, respawning and mayhem for $49.95. We jumped in on the beta of the original version way back in the day, and had some fun with this first person shooter boardgame, so this new incarnation might be worth checking out.

BattleLore’s Heroes not dead

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

In the latest BattleLore Designer Update over on Fantasy Flight’s website, FFG’s Jason Steinhurst had this to say:

Yes, the Heroes expansion does exist, and at the present time, it is right in the midst of the development process. That means it’s currently in the middle of being cooked; we are seasoning it to taste and trying to get the recipe just right. I know you’ve been waiting for this expansion for quite a while now, but believe me when I say it will be worth it. Spring 2009 will be a great time to be a BattleLore fan.

Steinhurst also made mention of other “already started, but as of yet incomplete, projects” for BattleLore that FFG gained in its acquisition of the product line from Days of Wonder. Perhaps other nifty expansions will be along next year as well.

Catalyst added to WizKids shakeout

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Just since our story yesterday on the continuing WizKids closure situation, it was pointed out that another hat was thrown into the ring for picking up the pieces. Catalyst Game Labs has made an offer to Topps to acquire HeroClix, Pirates, BattleTech/MechWarrior, and Shadowrun. Catalyst’s proven track record withClassic BattleTech and Shadowrun seems to make it a solid choice for continuing the WizKids legacy. Such well-known products have likely caught the eye of several potential buyers, so we may see a bidding war over the WizKids product lines. Or rather, we’ll know what happened when someone declares victory. Click through for the press release.
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Piñata Games wants to be filled with HeroClix

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Its website is little more than a placeholder so far, but Piñata Games intends to be the new owner of HeroClix. As one of the most notable game lines left up in the air by Topps deciding to close WizKids, it was only a matter of time before someone made a play for it. Founded by two WizKids employees, Brand Manager Jake Theis and Director of Brand Management and Marketing Justin Ziran, Piñata is working on getting the rights to HeroClix, using sites like SaveHeroClix.com to rally the gaming community. We’ll have more as it develops. [UPDATE: Catalyst Game Labs has approached Topps as well. Full story over here]

Voting begins in new gamebook competition

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

This year, the home of the free online Chronicles of Arborell gamebooks is hosting a competition to encourage new authors. All the entries are in, and readers are now encouraged to take a look and vote for their favorites. The adventures begin here. Take a look, put in your votes, and think about contributing if this rolls around again next year. I’d love to see gamebooks get their own competition as large and interesting as the computer-based Interactive Fiction Competition, which is also in the voting stage at the moment.

Best Choose Your Own Adventure list at AOL

Friday, November 14th, 2008

It isn’t often that we link to an AOL feature article, but their list of the top 20 Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks is somewhat entertaining. We lend even more credence to the list due to the author thanking Gamebooks.org, a site created and run by OgreCave’s longtime staff member and gamebook specialist, Demian Katz. Good to know some AOL writers recognize quality when they see it.

Lucasfilm drops Gen Con lawsuit

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Finally, something optimistic to post about. LivingDice.com has the news – Lucasfilm has dropped the lawsuit against GenCon, per the dismissal notice filed with the courts earlier today. Naturally, the hope is that things will get sorted out in bankruptcy proceedings, allowing all parties to resume business as usual – which would be great news for Gen Con.

Upper Deck has second round of 2008 layoffs

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

The season of cutting back is fully underway. We hadn’t mentioned the Mattel layoffs yet, so if you hadn’t heard, now you know. In addition, our sources say that Upper Deck has just had more layoffs, and this round is more severe than the company’s cutbacks in early May. If true, that would mean Upper Deck is letting go of more than 50 employees this week. We’ll let you know once we hear more, but between this, Mattel’s layoff, and the WizKids closure, things are looking a bit grim lately. [UPDATE: We've now also heard that about 60 people were let go from Upper Deck - 40 from California, the rest from Nevada, mostly from mid-level and entry level positions in R&D, Special Projects, and Brand. This equates to nearly 20% of the company's workforce. As always, we wish the best of luck to everyone affected.]

Shadowrun and BattleTech safe despite WizKids closure

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Despite yesterday’s news that WizKids will be closing down, the concern some have expressed over the future of Shadowrun and Classic Battletech licenses is apparently unnecessary. Catalyst Game Labs, which licenses the two game properties from WizKids, posted the following announcement on its site (copied below):

The Topps Company announced today that WizKids will immediately cease operations. Catalyst Game Labs has already been informed this should in no way affect Catalyst’ publication of the Classic BattleTech and Shadowrun game lines. “We’re still completely dedicated to the Classic BattleTech and Shadowrun game lines,” said Loren Coleman, co-owner of Catalyst Game Labs. “We’ve got a great line of products coming out heading into 2009 and so see no reason why the 25th [BattleTech] and 20th [Shadowrun] anniversary years for these brands won’t be fantastic for our great fan base.”

Here’s to keeping worthwhile brands alive and innovative during these trying times.

WizKids officially shut down

Monday, November 10th, 2008

So yeah – Topps is formally exiting the hobby games market and terminating all WK product lines, or what’s left of them anyway. The predictable noises are being made about changing economic times and etc., but one wonders whether the sports trading card business is really that much better to focus on. I suppose the phrase “no risk, no reward” might be sounding a little sweeter these days to Topps’ owners (who are, for those of you not keeping your scorecards up to date, Dearborn Partners and Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company). [Edit: so there's me with the reading-comprehension fail: it sounds like HeroClix and something else (my guess is actually Star Wars PocketModel rather than Pirates) will be continuing under a new brand after a short break, rather than permanently folding. Critical Hits has some more details and discussion.]
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Audio Report: Miniatures and fear, sort of

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Since it was recorded just a few days before Halloween, the latest episode of the OgreCave Audio Report naturally focuses on – miniatures? Yep, Mike and I muse on the recent D&D Miniatures news, and on the sorts of miniatures games a cross-training gamer should have on hand. Then we put a bow on our Screams from the Cave event with some Halloween-like games, as well as some thoughts on Monty Python Fluxx and 3:16 – Carnage Amongst the Stars. Be sure to have a listen, and tell us what you think of all this nonsense.

OgreCave interview – Stan!

Friday, November 7th, 2008

You’ve seen his name floating around the industry for years now, at companies like TSR and Wizards of the Coast, to recent ventures like The Game Mechanics and Super Genius Games, and even in Kobold Quarterly – the man, the myth, the Stan! From Star Wars and Ravenloft to d20 Modern and Call of Cthulhu, Stan! gets around. We’ve posed a few questions to the man-of-one-name to learn of his work, his play, and whether he’s a game designer or a cartoonist at heart.

Reasons given for refusal of GenCon charity donation

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Apparently the recent decision by the Christian Children’s Fund to refuse $17,000 from a GenCon charity auction has raised enough of an uproar that an explanation is being offered (to both the Escapist and directly via email to concerned gamers). According to Cheri Dahl, VP of International Communications and Fundraising at CCF, “When GenCon contacted CCF about its auction, we were pleased to accept donations. However, we couldn’t lend our name for publication because our policies have specific criteria for endorsements.” So, the situation may have been a misunderstanding – but given the accusations religious groups have leveled at gamers and D&D in the past, this will likely be perceived as damage control after the fact.